Unsolved Murders

Anthony Salt

Age: 30

Sex: male

Date: 16 Apr 1989

Place: 274 Green Lane, Small Heath, Birmingham

Anthony Salt was a policeman and died whilst carrying out under-cover surveillance on an illegal West Indian drinking den, a shebeen, at 274 Green Lane in Small Heath.

He was found collapsed in Whiteall Road in Bordesley Green at about 2.20am on 17 April 1989.

Anthony Salt had been a resident beat officer for three years at Bordesley Green and had been working undercover with his colleague on plain-clothes surveillance of a club at 274 Green Lane in Small Heath following complaints of illegal parties from residents.

It was claimed that he had been assaulted by three men whilst carrying out his duties and the men were initially charged with his murder, charges which were later reduced to manslaughter and which were then later dropped. However, it was later claimed that the police had fabricated their statements to frame them and that in fact Anthony Salt had not been carrying out surveillance and had instead been drinking in a pub and had later gone to the illegal drinking club to get more drink and that after he was refused entry had fallen back and hit his head on a JCB and then died from his injuries.

His inquest showed that he had been three times over the legal drink drive limit when he died.

He had died from a blow to the neck which ruptured a blood vessel and caused a brain haemorrhage.

He was 6ft 2in tall and 14 stone.

When the matter was heard in Parliament, presented by the MP for Sunderland South, it was described as a case in which the police were able to fabricate evidence and confessions against innocent people including tape-recordings and to then rely on superiors to support them, including superiors as high up as the forces chief constable and then to gain the support of the Crown Prosecution Service and even the Home Office to support and maintain their lies as well as being able to rely on the silence of the local press on such matters.

The outline of the events were:

  • 16 April 1989: Anthony Salt and a colleague were assigned to keep watch on an illegal night club at 274 Green Lane, Small Heath.
  • 16 April 1989 9pm: Anthony Salt and his colleague abandoned their observation post and gone to the Grapes public house in Green Lane to drink alcohol.
  • 16 April 1989 11pm: Anthony Salt and his colleague return to their post under the influence of alcohol and were described as the worse for wear.
  • 17 April 1989 1am: Anthony Salt and his colleague returned to the Grapes public house in Green Lane for some after-hours drinking. Anthony Salt's colleague later admitted that by the time they returned from their second bout of drinking that they had each had about seven or eight pints of beer, one short and half a can of super-strength lager and had difficulty in standing. His colleague also stated that he had had a fierce fight with Anthony Salt shortly before leaving the Grapes public house for the second time as Anthony Salt didn't want to leave and someone had to come between them.
  • 17 April 1989 2am: Anthony Salt and his colleague leave the Grapes public house and head back to their post. Anthony Salt's colleague said that he went straight back to the observation post, but said that Anthony Salt went off down the alleyway that they were supposed to be observing in the direction of the illegal party, allegedly to get more beer.
  • 17 April 1989 2.20am: Anthony Salt's colleague saw colleague collapsed at the mouth of the alleyway.
  • 17 April 1989 2.20am (sometime after): Anthony Salt was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead.
  • 17 April 1989 (later in day): Assistant Chief Constable gave a press conference detailing the events that were later alleged to have been fabricated and which were supported by the press for months to come stating that Anthony Salt had broken cover to check a suspect car and had been attacked by a person or persons with martial arts skills, dragged into the alley and beaten to death. However, it was later heard in Parliament that that was a lie and that the alleged truth was that Anthony Salt had tried to get into the party and that whilst he was on his way back he had hit his head on a JCB, and further that there was no suspect car.
  • 17 April 1989: Times Newspaper reports that 53 people were held after the party and that that an undercover constable was killed whilst on duty. The article states that after his colleague found him collapsed in Whitehall Road that he attempted to resuscitate him but that Anthony Salt died shortly after in hospital. It was reported that Anthony Salt had died from head injuries and that his clothes were badly ripped. It was later reported that day that although no motive was known that Anthony Salt's wallet was missing, suggesting robbery.
  • 29 April 1989: First West Indian man charged with murder.
  • 1 May 1989: Two other West Indian men were charged with murder.
  • August 1989: West Midlands Serious Crime Squad dissolved following long-term reports of abuse of power and corruption.
  • 23 September 1989: Memorial service held for Anthony Salt a St Catherine of Sienna Roman Catholic Church in Bristol Street, Birmingham.
  • 23 September 1989: Times reports that Anthony Salt was killed by a karate blow during a plain-clothes operation outside the illegal drinking den and that three men were charged with his murder.
  • 21 June 1990: Times newspaper reported that 'Manslaughter charges against three men have since been dropped through lack of evidence'.
  • 21 June 1990: Coroner decided not to reopen inquest into Anthony Salt's death.

It was noted that when Anthony Salt's colleague was first seen by another policeman that arrived on the scene that he said that he thought that Anthony Salt had had a fit, making no mention of any attack. However, he then went on to make four statements which gradually varied:

  1. In his first statement he said that he had first seen a West Indian leave the alleyway and that three or four minutes later he had seen Anthony Salt stagger out and that as there was no one else in sight that he had gone to his assistance.
  2. In his second statement he said that he saw a West Indian come out of the alleyway just after Anthony Salt came out and that the West Indian appeared to have been involved in Anthony Salt's collapse and that he also saw him steal from Anthony Salt's body and that after that he had gone to Anthony Salt's aid immediately.
  3. In his third statement he said that he saw two West Indians, one with dreadlocks, push Anthony Salt out of the alleyway, but added in that statement that he was too scared to go immediately to Anthony Salt's assistance. It was noted that no more was ever noted about a West Indian with dreadlocks being associated with the case.
  4. In his fourth statement he said that he saw Anthony Salt stumble into the alleyway towards the illegal club and then saw him stumble back two or three minutes later and collapse and to have seen a West Indian man rob him, being able to give a detailed description of the man that he saw.

It was noted then, that as a result of Anthony Salt's colleague's fourth statement that three West Indian were arrested, West Indian A aged 20, West Indian B aged 19 and West Indian C aged 25.

When they were initially arrested they were asked by the police to assist in their inquiries into identifying people that had been at the party from their surveillance photographs, however, it was noted that that was a false assertion as it was claimed that the three West Indian men were already suspects in the alleged murder of Anthony Salt. It was noted that none of the three West Indian men matched the description of the man that Anthony Salt's colleague described in his third statement, that of the man with dreadlocks.

West Indian A was taken to Queen's road police station where it was noted that some of the Birmingham Six, a famous case of miscarriage of justice involving police corruption, had been persuaded to sign their confessions. However, no custody record exists of his visit. West Indian A, who then made a confession to stealing Anthony Salt's wallet and his cubiton, a martial arts weapon that he had been carrying, said, 'They were saying you can either do it peacefully or we can do it rough. I've been beaten up before in police stations and it’s not very nice. I wasn't prepared to go through all that again'.

West Indian A said that after he agreed to admit to the thefts that he was then carefully rehearsed in what he was to say once the police interview recorder was turned on. He said, 'They started going over the story with me, over and over again, so I could get it correct, so that it could fit in with everything else. They planned everything out before I went into the interview room', after which he said that he was taken to Belgrave road police station where his interview, which was recorded, took place. It was noted in the Hansard record detailing the events that the first custody record for West Indian A started when he arrived at the Belgrave road police station, and not when he was first taken to Queen's road police station.

It was similarly stated in the Hansard record that West Indian B and West Indian C were similarly taken to Sparkhill police station, which was also off the record and for which there are no custody records, for a similar dress rehearsal over what they were going to say. West Indian B said 'I was there in Sparkhill for nine and half hours, with nothing on half the time and they try telling me 'you're going to get done for murder if you don't own up to this theft'. I just took the easy way out'. He said that he was then taken to Belgrave road police station where his custody records similarly began and he confessed on tape to stealing Anthony Salt's wallet and cubiton.

West Indian C, who had been the doorman at the illegal nightclub, said that he was taken to Sparkhill police station, for which there are no records, and questioned for most of the day and interviewed by members of the serious crimes squad which was later disbanded. He said, 'I was intimidated, slapped around. Threats were made against my family'. He said that he agreed to make a statement because he was told that if he didn't that 'drugs would be found in his house which would have led to a gaol sentence for his girlfriend and the loss of his children'.

West Indian C said that when he was similarly later interviewed on record hat he admitted that he had been on the door when Anthony Salt tried to get in and that he had prevented him.

After the taped interviews with the three West Indian men were made they were all charged with murder.

West Indian A and West Indian B said that the police laughed at them when they were told that they were being charged with murder and not theft as they had been led to believe.

Meanwhile, it was heard that another witness, a 17-year-old girl, had given a statement in which she had said that she had seen West Indian A and West Indian B leave the party well before Anthony Salt died, but that the police had persuaded her to make a second statement in which she said that she had seen West Indian C punch Anthony Salt and then saw West Indian A and West Indian B rob him.

She said, 'There were more than five men and one woman in the room with me. They were all shouting and I was crying. They were saying, 'You did see it', and putting things into my head … I just couldn't take no more, so I said to them, 'Just write down what you want to write down, okay?'.

The Hansard report noted that from there, the police effort to convict the three men stated to go wrong:

  1. A taxi driver was found who said that he had taken West Indian A and West Indian B away from the party some time before Anthony Salt died.
  2. Two pathologists said that even if West Indian C had hit Anthony Salt at the entrance to the party that the blow would not have killed him.
  3. The pathologists said that they did not believe that Anthony Salt had received his injury at the entrance to the club as they did not believe that he would have then been able to stagger 120 feet back into the street to where he was found dead.
  4. The pathologists claimed that the most likely explanation for Anthony Salt's death was that he had fallen and hit his head on the bucket of a JCB digger parked nearby.
  5. Anthony Salt's widow later said that she found Anthony Salt's missing cubiton, which it was alleged that West Indian A had stolen, on the floor of their family car.
  6. It was also said that West Indian A and West Indian B had confessed to stealing £30 from Anthony Salt but that his wife had said that he had only had £5 when he had gone out that evening. It was also noted that the statement that Anthony Salt's wife had made was actually missing from the documents later disclosed to the defence by the Crown Prosecution Service and that it's absence was only determined through the resultant gaps in the numbered pages of the evidence.

The MP for Sunderland South noted that although the case collapsed on these grounds, that it took a year for the charges to be dropped against the three West Indian men and that many parties assisted in the cover up, including the coroner who it was heard closed the inquest without hearing the full evidence.

The MP for Sunderland South noted that nothing seemed to have been done to address the claims of corruption in the police and noted that Anthony Salt's colleague later retired on health grounds, his pension intact and that the chief constable who it alleged had been complicit in the cover up was later promoted to Her Majesty's chief inspector of constabulary, becoming responsible for enforcing standards throughout the West Midlands. It further noted that none of the detectives involved in extracting the false confessions were disciplined in any way and that most of them continued to carry out their duties going forward.

The MP for Sunderland South also noted that Anthony Salt's name was still on the roll of honour of officers killed on active duty which was later described as an embarrassment for all other police officers who had fallen in the line of duty legitimately. It was also later reported in the press that a friend of West Indian C had said 'His name should be taken off the memorial. It’s just another slap in the face for the families of those who were wrongfully accused of his murder'.

However, the Hansard report also detailed the response from The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department in responce to the MP for Sunderland South's interpretation of the events and facts and he who denied fully the complicity of the Crown Prosecution Service, Home Office and other bodies, calling the MP for Sunderland South's complaints 'swingeing and quite unjustified criticism'.

Following the discovery of Anthony Salt, his colleague attempted to resuscitate him and he was taken to hospital where he soon died. 53 people from the illegal club were held for questioning and the police also went to Northampton and Brixton where it was thought that some of the club-goers were thought to have afterwards gone.

Anthony Salt's colleague said that at about 2.20am that they had split up and that he had left Anthony Salt observing the back door of the club. He then said that the next thing that he saw was Anthony Salt staggering into Whitehall Road where he collapsed.

About 130 police officers were then rushed to the club where the people there were detained.

It was reported on the same day, 17 April 1989 that although there was no known motive, that his wallet was missing which suggested robbery. When the Chief Constable made a statement, he said that there was no sign that a weapon had been used against Anthony Salt, but said that he had not ruled out the possibility that he had been attacked by a martial arts expert.

The Chief Constable said, 'This was not a terribly dangerous task. It was a routine operation, the type PC Salt had carried out before. Their job was not to challenge anyone but to log evidence and provide intelligence for a raid on the shebeen at a later date'.

The three West Indian men were charged with murder on 29 April 1989 and 1 May 1989. However, the charges were later reduced to manslaughter, and were later, by 21 June 1990, dropped due to lack of evidence.

Anthony Salt was married to a former woman police officer and had three young children. He had been in the police force for eleven years and had been decorated for bravery in 1984.

He was described as an enthusiastic charity worker and had recently helped to raise £7,000 for charity during a television Telethon.

The three West Indian men were later awarded £100,000 compensation for what had happened.

The West Midlands Serious Crime Squad was described as being notorious for its corruption and was later dissolved in 1989. As well as being associated with the alleged miscarriage of justice surrounding Anthony Salt's death whilst on under-cover police duty, it was also associated with other high profile cases including the Birmingham Six, the Bridgewater Four and those of Martin Foran, George Glen Lewis, Keith Twitchell and Derek Treadaway. It was dissolved in August 1989 following an investigation into allegations of incompetence and abuse of power on the part of some of its members. It was noted that at least 40 convictions failed in the 1980s as a result of likely malpractice. It was said that from 1987, after new forensic techniques were used to indicate when statements had been altered, usually by adding incriminating phrases, and cases began to regularly collapse that pressure mounted for the Serious Crime Squad to be investigated. Following its dissolution, as of January 2017, about 60 people had had their convictions quashed. It was also noted that over 100 cases brought about by the Serious Crime Squad either collapsed or were quashed on appeal.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see hansard.millbanksystems.com

see Fuck France

see IRR

see Birmingham Mail

see Wikipedia

see Gorman, Edward. "Undercover PC killed at drinks club." Times, 17 Apr. 1989, p. 5. The Times Digital Archive, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/IF0500377627/TTDA?u=rbw_earl&sid=TTDA&xid=699016bf. Accessed 14 May 2020.

see "PC murder charges." Times, 1 May 1989, p. 2. The Times Digital Archive, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/IF0500381777/TTDA?u=rbw_earl&sid=TTDA&xid=36dc2106. Accessed 14 May 2020.

see "Two held on remand." Times, 2 May 1989, p. 2. The Times Digital Archive, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/IF0503234987/TTDA?u=rbw_earl&sid=TTDA&xid=6112cec9. Accessed 14 May 2020.

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Thursday 21 June 1990

see Aberdeen Press and Journal - Monday 17 April 1989

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Thursday 21 June 1990

see Sandwell Evening Mail - Wednesday 23 August 1989